Yesterday I made a mistake which is an easy one to make when you’re rushing. I brushed my hand across part of my painting to remove a speck of dust when it wasn’t quite dry. This resulted in rather an annoying pale smudge on an area where I couldn’t possibly add anything in to cover it up!
It could have been pretty fatal had it been darker. I decided to try my Eradicator brush to remove as much as I could before letting it dry thoroughly overnight. The Eradicator brush is a super useful tool, you can buy them from Billy Showell or Jackson’s Art. There is a method to using it which I will explain under the photos below…
If the stain isn’t fully removed (as it wasn’t in my case) leave it to dry overnight before attempting to try again. Don’t panic and keep erasing or you will ruin the paper surface completely.
You can use magic eraser to remove stubborn stains. This is a white foam which I cut into a small wedge shape. This for ease of erasing close to an edge of paint and it is more comfortable to hold whilst working with it.
Once it’s dry you can burnish the area to try and flatten any fibres which are still loose. They may not go away completely but it will feel a little smoother. A second attempt using this method proved successful on my painting, thank goodness! After letting it dry thoroughly I burnished the area again. This is described below.
I used a very fine sanding block to smooth the paper again as the fibres were still obvious. This is only suitable if you don’t want to paint over the area again. If you do, then stick to burnishing and use dry brush method carefully over the area. Washes will lift the fibres again.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me with a comment or via my contact details below.
The PNBA (Pacific Northwest Botanical Artists) asked me to write an article for their newsletter and I thought I would share this as a blog with you too. I hope you enjoy it.
This Autumn COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, was held in Glasgow Scotland. It brought together the nations of the world for one of the most important international meetings about the future of our planet. The conference had six major themes and the theme that was relevant to the ABBA (Association of British Botanical Artists) ReflectionS exhibition was:
Nature – to safeguard and restore natural habitats and ecosystems to preserve the planet’s biodiversity
Inspired by COP26, ABBA has released an exhibition focused on the crucial role that plants play in preserving the planet’s health and biodiversity. ABBA’s slogan for the exhibition is ‘No plants – no planet’.
Thirty-five juried artists’ submissions are being exhibited in digital form in the prestigious Shirley Sherwood Gallery (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew). The exhibition is also online until March 2022 which includes all sixty-six artists’ entries, http://www.britishbotanicalartists.com/reflections-1. At present the Shirley Sherwood Gallery is featuring an exhibition by Sculptor Zadok Ben-David called ‘Natural Reserve’ and the ReflectionS digital exhibition can be viewed on a large screen within the same building.
I am very privileged to have had my work selected by the judges to be shown at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery. This blog is about the painting I made and why I felt it was important to show. The Southern Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza praetissima) is a British wet meadow wild orchid. This orchid was restricted to southern UK but due to climate change, recent records now find it as far north as Newcastle upon Tyne. A warmer climate may result in this orchid declining or disappearing from southern UK altogether. Wetland is one of our essential habitats for small mammals, insects, birds and wildflower species.
My working method
I like to find wild plants in their own habitat to make an accurate drawing and study the plant botany first. Working in this way allows you to understand everything about the plant before you start to draw. If I am able to, I will pull a plant apart and examine each individual bit before I start my composition. I make study drawings of all these parts and note measurements too. With a head full of information and notes I will start to plan out the composition. For this wild orchid, I wanted to show part of its living habitat too, which is why I included some grasses and insects in the composition. These were Grass Vetchling – growing nearby, a common blue damselfly – an insect flying around in the area and a solitary mason bee – a bee which pollinates early flowering wildflowers. I feel by including these details the plant and its story are being told.
I was having great trouble locating this orchid locally when the University Bristol Botanic Garden called me one day to say they thought they had a specimen growing that I could borrow. I was delighted! Having a specimen right next to you on your desk is such a benefit when drawing and painting. However, the specimen was not a true Southern Marsh Orchid but a very similar hybrid and so my hunt went on. I have a lot of experience in hunting down wildflower species as I have had to do this for all the plants which feature in my RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) botanical exhibition work. It isn’t easy sometimes and involves a lot of research, driving around and walking!
I was disappointed but kept on with my research in the hope that I could find one before it was too late. There was a tight deadline! By chance whilst chatting to a local walking friend (Simon Harding), who works in the area recording wild orchid and flower species, I was told that he knew exactly where I could find plenty of specimens to study in the field. Excited and so very grateful, I followed his map to a place about 20 minutes from my home, see image.
There I found hundreds of Southern Marsh Orchids living quietly in a damp field on the nature reserve. I measured, made colour studies, sketched and also made a note of what other plants were growing nearby. I also noted insects visiting the area too. This was a typical wet meadow environment, the type I love, as all my RHS exhibition species are wet meadow plants too. My initial sketches were raw and I found the inflorescence very tricky!
Research and botany
I was allowed to take a few individual flowers from an inflorescence to help me with my dissection illustrations. Orchids are difficult to dissect and understand but with the help of a botanist friend, I managed to make a perfect dissection drawing. I also painted an enlarged pollinium; a body of pollen grains forming a mass and attached to a sticky pad. There are two of them per flower on this plant. This reproductive part attaches to an insects head as it enters the flower. It is then taken by the insect to another orchid flower or plant and pollination happens. To see all the detail of these flowers I used a microscope. The front-facing orchid flower reminded me of an alien face and the side view of a baby in a bonnet! Below are images of my studies and microscope photos.
Preparing to paint
The colour on this orchid was quite tricky to match. It has a lovely pink/lilac flower, burgundy/brown tinges on green bracts and the stem and foliage are quite a bright green. I tested my mixes using live pieces that had been carefully removed from plants in the field. I also took many reference photos to help me with the final drawing and colouring. Not an easy task, as photos make this plant look so different where colour is concerned, but then, photos generally do!
I decided to make this a long thin painting as the subject was tall and its foliage quite upright. I completed the drawing in outline and left the habitat part at the bottom to finish later. I really needed to start painting!
My original inflorescence sketch was too large so I outlined it in black fine liner and reduced it on my laptop, then printed it out at the correct size. It was tidied up later and drawn neatly before I transferred it to watercolour paper.
I particularly enjoyed painting the insects. This is the start of the bright blue damselfly. No black paint was used, this black is a mix of Indanthrene Blue, Permanent Carmine and New Gamboge. I prefer to mix my own black as there are many versions of black too, warm and cool! This is a warm black mix that compliments the bright vivid cool blue.
This painting was a mammoth task with such a short time to complete. I really wanted to be involved in this exhibition as the theme is very close to my heart. Protecting all our ecosystems is crucial to human survival and these environments are becoming so rare. In the UK 97% of all meadow grassland has been lost since the 1950s due to modern intensive farming, housing and draining of wetlands. Then there are pesticides that are killing the pollinators of our food plants. Something needs to change….
I went back to the nature reserve later on to see the seeding inflorescences. I did this so that if I had time to include this plant in my RHS entry, I would have more information available about its lifecycle. It would be a different style composition to this painting here as I have done my RHS paintings in a more scientific way. I do now have all the necessary information and research to hand though, just in case! The seeds are very small, fine and delicate, almost like dust. see microscope image below.
The finished painting
I was pleased with the result and thrilled that it was chosen to be shown in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery by ABBA judges. It is probably the fasted detailed painting I have ever done!
I hope you enjoyed my painting journey for the Southern Marsh Orchid.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, it’s very close now!
I painted this Greater Knapweed flower head a couple of years ago and it truly was an exercise in pink even though the flower is purple. I cut it in half because I wanted to show the inner parts as well as the flower head. It also gave me the opportunity to use a technique called ‘painting in the negative’ in the area where the seeds are produced. I found this so intricate and interesting. The flower colour, in real life, is a bright purple/pink. Lighter areas are more pink in tone and darker areas more violet/purple. The whole inflorescence is exquisitely designed and beautiful to study up close. I just loved ensuring the colour mix was just right and painting in all those lovely fine details!
I have written the colour mixes next to the painting image below and highlighted where they were used. There is no sign of Opera Rose! Quinacridone Magenta was used to make the really bright pink and some Winsor Blue Red Shade added to make the purple tones. You’ll achieve a brighter effect by making sure the highlights are very light and by using good quality white hot pressed watercolour paper. So no need to go for Opera Rose which we know fades over time. Here’s the pigment list:
Transparent Yellow – TY Quinacridone Gold – QG Winsor Blue (Red Shade) – WBRS Indanthrene Blue – IB Cobalt Blue – COB Quinacridone Magenta – QM Permanent Rose – PR Burnt Sienna – BS Perylene Violet – PV Winsor Violet – WV
I added a thin glaze of Winsor Violet to some areas as a warm overlay towards the end of painting to enhance the violet/purple tones within the subject and occasionally a little thin cool pale blue glaze was added too. Generally, I would use French Ultramarine as a cool overlay. In areas where the pink tones appeared very slightly warmer a pale glaze of Permanent Rose was added. The creamy yellow mix for the bottom of each floret was made with Transparent Yellow and a tiny little bit of Permanent Rose. Some of this mix was also added to the central dissected area which also had many beautiful beige and golden tones.
Comparing pink pigments
Permanent Rose (PV19) is a slightly warmer pink with a violet bias whereas Quinacridone Magenta (PR122) is cooler and has a very strong violet bias. Sennelier Rose Madder Lake (PV19) has the same index number as Permanent Rose and they are indeed very similar. Although I definitely consider Sennelier Rose Madder Lake to be a tad warmer than Permanent Rose. Pinks come in many forms but all these pigments are definitely lightfast.
Many beautiful apricots and warm pink/orange tones can be made with these pigments. Quinacridone Magenta will make the mix more vibrant than Permanent Rose. Just add a warm or cool yellow like Transparent Yellow (cooler), New Gamboge (slightly warmer) or Indian Yellow (very warm). The warmer the yellow, the warmer the mix!
Opera Rose – a much loved colour
Opera Rose is loved by many but as we learned last month it is rated as fugitive. Fading would be much more obvious with certain brands. Winsor and Newton Opera Rose and Daniel Smith Opera Pink are the most reliable for this colour across brands. They will not fade as much as other brands but they will definitely both lose the added fluorescence. Both use colour index PR122. This is the same pigment colour index as Quinacridone Magenta. I personally favour Quinacridone Magenta as my brightest pink pigment purely because it doesn’t pretend to be more vibrant than it is!
Opera Rose and Quinacridone Magenta test for lightfastness
I did a lightfast test for Winsor and Newton Opera Rose and Quinacridone Magenta over a two year period on my studio windowsill. This is quite a shaded room except for late afternoon sunshine. Testing will show more extreme results in direct sunlight. This is an example of what would happen in less intense sunlight conditions. The test was left on the windowsill from 2017 – 2019. It was hard to get an exact photo so you will just need to take my word for it! The Winsor and Newton Opera Rose (PR122) is still bright but all the fluorescent additive has disappeared making it look less vivid in colour. It now looks more like watered down Quinacridone Magenta. The Quinacridone Magenta (PR122) has not altered.
Making a swatch for testing
The swatch test in the previous image was made in a slightly different way to the example below. I painted fresh pigment onto another piece of paper in 2019 and compared it to the 2017 version. Here is another way to do it. Paint two swatches of the pigment in full colour and a weaker tint underneath on a piece of quality white watercolour paper. Cover one side with black paper. Tape this securely top and bottom so that light cannot get underneath it. Write the date onto the swatch. Leave on a very sunny winsdowsill for at least 3-6 months or longer. This is a good exercise for any colour pigments you are unsure of or that are classed as n.r (not rated).
Welcome to the second ‘Colour matters’ blog, The topic this month is about my favourite Winsor and Newton blues and a select few that I use as an underlay colour. Laying down a pale blue underlay is a great way to cool a colour mix placed above and enhance strong highlights when added thinly along the edges of them. Just as yellow will warm from underneath and violet will darken shadows. You may have come across this method when painting richly coloured subjects like Holly and Conkers.
Let’s find out a bit more about the blues
Many blues are granulating and some are semi-opaque or opaque. It is useful to know what’s what! When painting in layers, transparent and semi-transparent pigments are best to achieve translucence and depth. Opaque pigments will make your work look dense on watercolour paper. The symbols on your tubes and pans will advise you of this. Those bearing the marks ‘A”, ‘AA’, ‘I’ and ‘II’ are ratings which are best for lightfastness and permanency. Transparency symbols look like this:
Here I have split some of the W&N blues into categories. The permanency, lightfastness and transparency ratings are under each colour:
Strongs – those which have greater intensity of pigment, you’ll need less when mixing!
Granulators – those which granulate, not good for smooth rendering! Some of them will granulate more than others. Cobalt Blue isn’t as grainy as French Ultramarine. However, Ultramarine Green Shade shows very little granulation, but it does have a very slight green bias compared to French Ultramarine. I like the intensity of this pigment compared to French Ultramarine though.
Cerulean is a particularly granulating pigment and semi-opaque. If used as an underlayer, you will not achieve a smooth see-through effect with it. It is good for textured style painting though. See the image below for a comparison. Hopefully you can see it as this was quite hard to photograph! The difference is more obvious in real life. Try it out and see for yourself.
As seen above, a purple overlay was painted over base layers of Cerulean and Winsor Blue (Red Shade). The purple mix overlaid is a transparent mix. As you will see in the Cerulean example, it appears less crisp and quite mottled by the granulation. It also looks a little flatter where transparency is concerned. The Winsor Blue (Red Shade) underlay appears crisper and more see-through. So, if you are looking for a lighter blue underlay but with a slight yellow bias, just add a teensy bit of Winsor Lemon to Winsor Blue (Red Shade) and you will have a lovely smooth Cerulean look-alike!
Green bias – those which will cool a mix or are more green in appearance. Further along the image above are the very green bias blues, turquoise. The greener a blue is, the more vivid it will be when mixing greens. It will need to be tamed by adding a tiny bit of red to make a more natural mix. Add Quinacridone Red (QR) to Phthalo Turquoise (PT) and you will make a muted purple/mauve/burgundy because of the green bias. Add QR to Ultramarine Green Shade (UGS), a less green biased blue, and you will make brighter purple and mauve. This is because the green bias adds more yellow to the mix muting it down. Yellow and blue make green (green/blue), plus red makes brown!
Red bias – those which will add warmth a mix. Add Transparent Yellow to a red bias blue and you will make more natural greens. Add it to Winsor Blue (Green Shade), a green bias blue, and you will make vibrant but less natural emerald greens. Red will need to be added to tame these mixes.
Nearly greens – those which have a definite green bias. You will notice above that Cobalt Turquoise and Cobalt Turquoise Light are semi-opaque. They also granulate. I would only use these for textured, looser style painting.
Nearly blacks – those blues which are very dark pigments with a blue bias. Notice also that both Indigo and Payne’s Grey are opaque and semi-opaque. These pigments contain black which gives them their opacity. Both have the same colour index numbers – PB15 • PBk6 • PV19 but in different proportions. The black colour index will make a mix dense and flat looking. These pigments are only useful in extremely dark areas although darkening a mix is much better using transparent or semi-transparent primaries. If done this way, it will still have a see-through feel despite being almost black.
My underlay blue choices
My favourite blues for underlaying are Winsor Blue (Red Shade), French Ultramarine and Cobalt Blue. Winsor Blue (Red Shade) is particularly good when watered down as it is really smooth. It is a lovely bright red biased blue. Make sure you paint it on very pale though as it is one of the stronger pigments. It is also one of my favourite blues to mix with. French Ultramarine, although it granulates, when used very thinly it adds a nice coolness. It is a blue with little to no bias. It is great for edging highlights on dark coloured leaves like holly. Cobalt is a lighter blue which also granulates a little. Again, used thinly, it adds a nice coolness to the layers above.
Well that’s it for this month! If you like, please do message me with any suggestions of which colours you’d like to discuss next.
Until the 24th of next month, I hope you all have a great August. Maybe even have a break and be able to spend a few days away from home!
based on Winsor & Newton professional watercolours
From today, each month, I will be making a short blog about Winsor & Newton watercolour pigments and explain a few discoveries I have made along the way. Each blog will contain a range of interesting facts, tips and tricks. It will be a monthly post at about the same time each month, so look out for it around the 24th! Like my ‘Jackie Isard Botanicals’ Page to receive it on your Facebook timeline.
You will find my page on this link:
Alizarin Crimson versus Permanent Carmine…
Is Alizarin Crimson dulling your paintings? It looks really bright in the palette so why should this be? Don’t you wish it would stay bright?… well, unfortunately, that’s not possible as it will always dry a little duller than expected. This is because Alizarin Crimson (PR83) is a warm red with a slight maroon bias. It is also fugitive and will fade in sunlight. If you like to use Alizarin Crimson then make sure you buy the permanent version, Permanent Alizarin Crimson (PR206) for reliability.
Another question springs to mind. What’s the difference between Alizarin Crimson and Permanent Alizarin Crimson? There is very little difference in colour but Permanent Alizarin Crimson is very permanent, rated ‘A’ so shouldn’t fade. Alizarin Crimson is moderately permanent, rated ‘B’ and fugitive so it will fade badly. Alizarin Crimson is not good to use if you are exhibiting paintings where reliability and permanence are expected. An ‘A’ rating is always much better!
You could substitute this colour for Permanent Carmine (Quinacridone pyrrolidone) which is only a teensy, tiny bit cooler. Add a teensy, tiny bit of Transparent yellow to it and you’ll have a Permanent Alizarin Crimson match which stays bright. It will also give a slightly brighter colour mix when added to yellows and blues. Add French Ultramarine for a beautiful rich warm purple/mauve. Add Indian Yellow for really rich and vibrant orange and red mixes. Historically, Carmine was made from thousands of crushed kermes insects, ewwww… Thank goodness for Quinacridones!
Until next months, take care and keep safe!
Look out for my book ‘ Watercolour Mixing Techniques for Botanical Artists’ coming out later this year!
During the winter I’ve been very busy continuing with my RHS studies and finalising 3 compositions. It’s been a long trek! In between these studies I’ve been enjoying preparing for a course at Brackenwood which will cover White and Yellow Spring flowers. A subject many find hard to paint…even I do!
I also had a chance to go on an owl event where I had the pleasure of holding 6 different owls. The Owls in the photos above are a Barn Owl, a Tawny Owl and a Little Owl. My favourite was the Tawny Owl as we have a mating pair in the area where I live. I love hearing their calls, Twit – T-wooo. Apparently they are the only owls who make this type of call. I even got to hold an Eagle Owl. They are huge and very heavy! I’ve always admired these beautiful birds but never been this close up. It was delightful and I will remember it for a long time.
I have now completed my compositions for Cuckooflower, Ragged Robin and Greater Birds foot Trefoil.
Last week I started preparing sketchbook studies and botany notes for the fourth plant, Geum rivale – Water Avens. What a gorgeous little plant! It has delicate nodding flower heads and beautifully shaped leaves. Very much overlooked I think.
This plant has a very interesting botany. Quite different to the other plants I have studied. So much is learned about botany when dissecting and studying plants. I’ve really got into it! Like Cardamine pratensis it has different shaped basal leaves. They are more rounded at the top with leaflet pairs running down the stem. Quite attractive! It’s also very hairy in places and has hundreds of stamens all enveloped beneath 5 petals. There will be lots of fine details on this one. Here are some microscope images of the stigma (of which there are many too!), stamens and hairy buds…
So far I’ve dissected a young flower head, drawn up a budded branch, a flowering branch and one of the basal leaves. This is my drawing to date. I love the shape of those leaves! This will be a tough one to draw accurately. So much botany going on!
I have chosen to include pollinators in my work and a lot of research has gone into finding suitable insects for each plant in my series. It is important for me to make the insects to be relevant to the plants. You won’t believe how long this research takes! Below is a photo of a Common Blue which I took in Alveston, beautiful!
For my final 6 plant choices I have included two options for the last one. This is because it’s always good to have a back up. I have chosen 5 butterflies, a bee and a hover fly. They all use one of my chosen plants as either a larval food plant or for feeding. The butterflies are the Orange Tip, Marsh Fritillary, Wood White Common Blue and a large Scarce Blue.
This weekend I was taken on a surprise trip to a Nature Reserve by my son. I’ve been wanting to visit this place since I discovered it late last year. It is a farm in Cricklade called Lower Moor Farm. There are many fields of meadow flowers and wet meadow plants too! Although too early in the season to see the meadows in full swing, I did see evidence of plants beginning to peep through. My heart sings when I visit these places which really helps with the intense work I’ve had to carry out. I hope to view some of my chosen plants in another natural habitat later in the year when I visit again. I also wanted to see the Snake’s-Head Fritillary which are growing wild at North Meadow Cricklade not far from Lower Moor Farm. The fields of North Meadow are protected as this species is now very rare in the wild. Unfortunately, we were a little premature as they were only just starting to grow. Another visit is planned for Easter weekend to see it in its full glory.
This plant is actually not a British native species otherwise I may have chosen it as one of my Wet Meadow species. It’s a shame because it is a much loved flower to paint by Botanical artists! I have planted some in my garden wild areas which are flowering already …perhaps because the weather is milder in Bristol than North Meadow.
So, from here I must carry on with my Water Avens studies and composition ready to begin painting soon. Three of my plants will be flowering between April and June so time will be short! I’ll be back later in the Summer with more news and to show you how I’m getting on, plus some more meadow visit photos.
Until then Easter is just around the corner, so enjoy all that chocolate!
Jackie Isard Botanicals – Mixing Colour Accurately for Watercolour for Botanical
A course for those who struggle to mix accurately with watercolour! Learn how to mix watercolour accurately using primaries. You’ll be amazed at what can be achieved with practice and you won’t need to buy so many pigments!
THIS IS A COURSE YOU CAN JOIN AT ANY TIME! Private message me on Facebook or email me to Register, please – firstname.lastname@example.org.
This course is for Beginners and Intermediate students. The course contains a lot of exercises, detailed course notes, pre-recorded video tutorials and a dedicated Secret Facebook Group, all designed and created by your tutor Jackie Isard. It concentrates on mixing with primaries and aims to help you ‘see‘ colour more easily whilst building your confidence in colour mixing. It’s definitely not another course with endless colour charts!
Details of the course:
• A course designed to help you ‘see’ colour more easily and build your confidence with colour selection and application
• No endless charts!
• A listed palette of pigments to buy (Winsor & Newton professional watercolours). A very versatile palette of pigments!
• Learn how pigments work
• Many exercises that teach you how to mix accurately.
• Detailed notes and pre-recorded video tutorials
• Develop a structured way to test colours and mixing possibilities
• Understand which pigments to choose for vibrant mixes and subdued tones
• Practical tasks for a better understanding of colours and what they do
• Patient online appraisal at every stage throughout the course
• A dedicated student group page to share and learn
• A final appraisal letter and certificate
The course exercises can be done in your own time. We will cover pigment qualities, warm and cool pigments, those difficult greens, botanical greys (we touch on this, there is more detail in my book ‘Watercolour Mixing Techniques for Botanical Artists’), mixing purely with primaries and neutral beige/brown tones for those beautiful Autumn colours. Learn from the pre-recorded video tutorials and there are a couple specifically for beginners. You will be added to a hidden Facebook Group where the video tutorials are held. In this group you can view other students work, find useful tips and post your work for appraisal if you choose to (personal appraisal is always done via private messenger, not publically). One-to-one tuition and help is always on hand and you will never have to wait long for a response. It is important to me that every student is given the attention and help they need to ensure they have a successful and rewarding journey throughout the course.
Exercises include making a few small reference charts, matching swatch colours, mixing with cool and warm primaries and many other useful tips/exercises from which you will learn how to ‘see‘ and mix colour more accurately.
I am always available on Facebook Private Messenger or Email (unless I’m asleep!) to answer any questions you have during the course. Please bear in mind the time difference if you are overseas! I appraise your work as you complete each of the Lesson exercises and give you a personalised final appraisal at the end of the course. You will also receive a graded certificate for your efforts!
Lantana montevidensis colour matching by student Raashmi
Some student reviews:
“I wanted to learn from Jackie the day I first saw a pic of her painting on FB. Her painting was highly detailed and showed a certain sensitivity to colour. Fortunately for me, Jackie announced an online course a few days later. I paid up for the ‘Mixing colour accurately course’ but was a bit skeptical of learning online. Having completed the course, my doubts stand dispelled. The course content, the exercises and the patient online appraisal of the exercises by Jackie, all made for good learning. I recommend the course to anyone on a tight budget. It has taught me a structured way to test a colour and it’s mixing possibilities.” Raashmi
“Mixing colour accurately is exactly what this course has taught me and a most enjoyable process too. Very much a novice, the notes were clear and easy to follow. The feedback was prompt and very helpful. All in all – Brilliant, Thanks Jackie” Sylvia
“At last! I now approach colour mixing in a more organised and knowledgeable way. I now search for ‘many’ colours within a plant and have gained the confidence to closely match them. This course should be compulsory for all Botanical artists. Jackie is a knowledgeable and encouraging tutor who responds quickly to your questions and posts on the dedicated group page.” Christine
“Thank you for the very clear instructions, I read them all and watch all the videos, they are all very useful and easy to follow. Jackie Isard you are great artist and a great teacher too!” Mari
“I am very pleased with this course! After all the exercises and tasks, I finally began to see colour and understand how to mix it. I liked the fact that I had not only charts of colours but even in the end practical tasks for a better understanding of colour on real leaves and flowers. Separately it will highlight the fact that Jackie responded very quickly to questions and supported me throughout the course. I highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to learn how to mix watercolour accurately for botanical” Svitlana
“The course material for this colour mixing course is structured, interesting and clear. The exercises explained well and the extra videos and Facebook group tips are a bonus. I have learned to look further than ‘first sight’ when looking at a plant. A green leaf is not just green but a myriad of green tones and hues. What I most appreciated was Jackie’s personal support and the speedy replies with appraisal. It is an important motivator when working online.” Hilde
Payment can be made via PayPal, details will be sent on Registration. The fee is £105 UK and Internationals. If you do not have PayPal, it’s really simple to set up online. Just visit www.paypal.com. Bank transfer is only available using a UK bank account.
Please contact me by email or Facebook private messenger for Registration details!
Great news received March 2021!
My first published book has arrived in the UK! So exciting! More details below.
Watercolour Mixing Techniques for Botanical Artists
A practical guide to accurate watercolour mixing with primaries for botanical artists
Colour mixing is a key skill for the botanical artist. In this practical guide, Jackie Isard explains how to observe and use colour accurately. She shows artists how to make informed choices when selecting pigments, as well as how to learn about colour mixing and its application. • Gives detailed instruction and advice on understanding colour and pigments • Explains how to ‘see’ colour and tricky mixes, from greens and reds to the difficult botanical greys • Includes advanced colour application techniques – colour enhancement, shadow colours and colour temperature transition • Step-by-step guides illustrate how to paint with layers, how to use underlaying colours to enhance, and colour and fine detailing
Order online via major book shops or Amazon. Published by The Crowood Press Ltd
Arriving 22nd March 2021, USA arrival October 2021. E-books are also be available worldwide.
I was given this shell at my Daughter-in-laws wedding last year in Portugal and it has their wedding date inscribed underneath it. It has a special meaning to me as you will no doubt understand. So, I had to paint it for the couple to enjoy in their home!
To begin with, shells are rather difficult shapes to draw. Full of spirals or curved lines and beautiful patterns. This shell has lines going both vertically and horizontally over a curved surface. We really need to get those right first! I started by doing the outline of it’s total shape and then worked from the top/middle of the drawing putting in the curves carefully as they go from left to right. As they go round to the edges the space between them reduces almost to a vanishing point. Once these were completed and the little cracks across it’s surface drawn on, I then worked from the centre/top, putting in the vertical lines, across to the left and then across to right. These also curve across the surface subtly….quite tricky!
My shell has a number of interesting colours and I studied them carefully before I started to make my swatch. A lovely slate blue grey at the top and warm tan colours at the bottom intermingled with beige tones and yellows. I now had a good idea of what colour mixes I would use and created my swatch of colours.
For the slate blue/grey I used W&N Ultramarine Green Shade (U(GS), Transparent Yellow (TY) and Permanent Rose (PR). Mix it like you’re making black (70% blue, 20% red and 10% yellow) but add in a little bit more of the blue. For the Tan colour I used Burnt Sienna (BS), Quinacridone Gold (QG), a tiny little Indanthrene Blue (IB) and a tiny bit of Sennelier Rose Madder Lake (SRML) – this could be replaced with W&N Permanent Rose, PR. I used a little SRML to just add a little brightness to the mix. For the second tan colour which is paler and more orange, I used QG and BS, more of the QG. I also mixed up a black using IB, TY and PR.
The first step was to add a wet-in-wet layer using the base colours, grey, beige, warm yellow and rusty browns. When the wet-in-wet layer was totally dry, I started to add in some of the details using a little stronger beige mix. Image 1: Here I started to add in some of the vertical and horizontal patterning. Image 2 : Here I am adding a little more shadowing and some of the cracks in. It’s best not to work with the mix too thick at this stage or you will not be able to add further colour without it smudging. Now it’s starting to look more interesting!
After this, I added in more of the background colours to give my shell some form. These were very watered down versions of my original colours plus a slightly more blue version of my slate grey/blue. I applied these individually as a thin wash and then quickly rinsed/dried off my brush before softening the edges. It’s important to soften the edges of these washes with a damp brush. This blurs the edge rather than leaving a sharp edge. It gives a lovely smooth finish.
See how it’s starting to take shape! On some areas I used a Billy Showell technique to apply rough lose lines, a dry brush method. This gives a little more interest to the patterning, which are not always just curved lines. To do this, I load my brush and splay it into a fan in my palette. Then I slide the brush away from the palette until it forms little points instead of one point. Holding the brush as a 45° angle I then brush lightly across the area. For thinner lines hold the brush more upright. (There is a video demo of this technique on my Feathery Pursuits blog) This takes a bit of practice, so try it out on a separate piece of paper first!
To add in the spots onto the surface I used another technique. These are not just spots you see. Some are blurred and others have a line coming down through them. To achieve a blurred effect the paper needs to be lightly damp. But rather than dampen the paper first, I prefer to do this with the brush afterwards. You have to be quick and patient! Here’s how it’s done:
Some of these dots were paler than others so I used a paler mix for those but the same method to apply them. Once the dots were finished I worked on the top of the shell. This area is not solid colour so I’ve dampened the paper first to get a more mottled effect. It looks pretty messy at this stage but once I add the fine detail it comes together. To get a strong darker mix, this time I’ve used Indanthrene Blue (IB), TY and PR with a little U(GS) in my mix. This part of the shell is quite dark. Indanthrene Blue will strengthen this and the U(GS) will add just a little brightness. It will be similar tone as the slate grey/blue though.
After deepening the slate grey mix a little on the painting, not too dark though, I worked at the fine detailing on the top part of my shell. Vertical line patterning goes over this area too. To the right side there is a slight halo of light where the slate grey disappears over the edge of the shell. I left this part a little lighter and graduated it away. This is the reflected light from the surface. It is only a small area but crucial to create good form (** see photo further down).
Now to join bottom and top together. There were lots of lines to do here so I had to be very careful! Firstly, to guide me I added in the paler blue/grey sections between the darker lines. Then I carefully added in the vertical lines and horizontal lines and curves. **You can see the slightly highlighted edges at the top of the shell better in this photo below middle.
Next, I worked on the cracks to enhance their depth. I added a slightly darker mix into the top areas of these cracks with a thin wavy line. This was softened a little with a damp brush. At the same time as softening I pushed the paint back into the top part of each wavy line a bit. This creates backup which creates a definite edge, perfect for this type of detail. It gives a nice sharp edge with a thin graduation in front of it. Lastly, a little glazed shading around the sides and bottom to make it pop off the page!
I hope you enjoyed this Blog and that you are encouraged to have a go at a shell. Happy painting!
I was thrilled last week to receive a phone call from the SBA (Society of Botanical Artists) announcing that I had been presented with a CBM (Certificate of Botanical Merit) award for my seed head painting ‘Vessels of Life’. This award was created by the SBA to give credit to artists whose paintings/drawings are created in true botanical style and who may at some time in the future be awarded medals at the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) Botanical Exhibition. I am now very privileged to use the letters CBM after my name. So you can see why I am so excited!
This was one of three paintings which were chosen to be hung at the SBA exhibition The other two are featured below –
Ash Keys- Fraxinus excelsior seeds
Stinking Iris – Iris foetidissima
The exhibition this year is outstanding and I will now be seeing it twice when I go again on the 21st! My award was presented to my by Jekka of Jekka’s Herb Farm . Her speech was really interesting, informative and funny. It is sad to see Sarah Wall-Armitage retire as president but welcome Billy Showell as the new one!
For more about the painting of the painting and video tips, see Blog 9
Cards, small prints and Limited Edition unmounted or mounted prints available. Contact me on Facebook or here.
Thank you for reading! All photos and images on this blog are copyright of Jackie Isard Botanicals, all rights reserved
I’m excited to announce that I have launched 3 initial courses at Brackenwood Plant & Garden Centre, Leigh Court Estate, Pill Road, Abbots Leigh, Bristol BS8 3RA starting in March 2017. Courses are £35 per person per day. It’s an exciting adventure for me!
The first three courses are geared around important watercolour painting techniques which aim to improve your skills and give you the know-how to create beautiful botanical watercolours.
On the second course I will teach you washing out, shading, dry brush, how to paint fine lines, erasing out and perfect fine detail. Link to event on FB
Course 3: Mixing Colour Accurately – 27th May 10am-4pm
On this course we will learn colour mixing and matching to plants making swatch records, learn how to create bright tones, learn how to get perfect neutral (natural) tones, other bits and pieces like overlaying tints to enhance colours and not quite 50 shades of grey! Link to event on FB